Web Accessibility: Why it Matters in Canada in 2024

March 21, 2024
5 min read

Web accessibility is a set of rules, behaviours, code standards, and design principles that were created to help people with disabilities use websites to their fullest.

The World Wide Web Consortium created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 in 2018 and it's now used to help website designers (like us) make websites accessible for everyone.

The Canadian government has taken it one step further and crafted legislation based on these principles to make sure businesses are creating websites that are compliant. 

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines focuses on three areas of accessibility: blind people using screen readers, people with motor impairments who use only keyboards, and other disabilities such as colour blindness, epilepsy, and visual impairments that are mainly focused on the UI and design of the website (colour contrasts, fonts, etc.). 

As professional brand designers, we understand there are countless benefits to having an accessible website.

We make sure that every website we design and build is compliant with accessibility standards so that our clients strengthen their brand reputation and promote inclusion online. 

(You can view our website design services here)

This blog post will break down all the benefits associated with an accessible website as well as the AI-powered solution we recommend to our clients to ensure their websites maintain accessibility and comply with Canadian accessibility laws.

Also Read: Wordpress vs. Webflow: Which is Better?

Why Does Having an Accessible Website Matter?

Making sure your website is inclusive to everyone is important because everyone should have equal access to the internet.

Accessibility allows people with disabilities to participate in the digital world like everyone else. That includes everything from surfing the web for the latest news to searching for your business' products or services. 

There is also an important legal component to website accessibility. The W3C (The World Wide Web Consortium) created the Web ContentAccessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1), which teaches developers how to make websites accessible.

These guidelines have been adopted by governments around the world and are now a part of various legislations.

Right now, Ontario is the only province in Canada that can issue a fine if a website is not deemed accessible.

However, other Canadian provinces have begun public consultations and we expect them to introduce digital accessibility legislation soon. 

People with disabilities represent a big part of the Canadian population. Statistics Canada estimates that 1 in 5 people aged 15 years plus have at least one disability.

That's over 6 million people in Canada alone!

In fact, 20% of the global population lives with a disability which equates to a spending power of $8 trillion.

That means there is a whole market of people out there that could benefit from your products or services and making sure your site is accessible to them is just good business sense. 

Taking web accessibility seriously is also great for your brand.

Building a brand reputation that is trustworthy can take years. Showing your community that you take inclusion and accessibility seriously is a quick and easy way to establish credibility and trust with your audience. 

Can Accessibility Help Your SEO?

Google is constantly analyzing and evaluating websites based on a series of ranking factors. and a big part of that is user friendliness.

Naturally, websites that were designed with accessibility in mind are prioritized over sites without those same considerations.

AccessibilityChecker.org set out to prove this theory.

They studied 847 websites that had clearly implemented accessibility solutions and found that a majority of them saw an increase in traffic, with 73.4% of the sites experiencing more traffic and 66.1% of all sites increasing monthly organic traffic by anywhere between 1% and 50%. 

Our Recommend Website Accessibility Solution 

As a professional Edmonton website design agency, we are big advocates when it comes to accessibility. 

While we make sure the UI and design of all the websites we create are accessible, we have also partnered with accessiBe — an AI-powered solution to help ensure our websites are accessible and compliant with accessibility laws.

Their technologies are built with feedback directly from the disability community and are used by thousands of websites and organizations around the world. 

Reasons Why We Love AccessiBe

Affordable Price: Because accessiBe uses automation tools, they're able to keep costs affordable. Their tools cost just $490 per year per domain for websites under 1,000 pages, with different plans for bigger sites. There are also tax credits available depending on where you live to help further offset the cost.

Easy Implementation: It only takes us a few minutes to install their simple JavaScript code on your website. Once implemented, accessWidget scans, analyzes and fixes accessibility compliance gaps within 48 hours. 

Ongoing Support: accessiBe offers ongoing maintenance and support for your website by scanning it every 24 hours to make sure every new piece of content you upload is compliant. 

Litigation Support: accessiBe offers a Litigation Support Package which helps you take care of everything you need and provides all the necessary accessibility documentation. Instead of handling legal situations on your own, accessiBe is the only web accessibility company that provides this service.

Community Input: We love that accessiBe works directly with the disability community and receives ongoing feedback on their research and development so their product truly helps address their needs.

The issue of web accessibility has gained a lot of attention in recent years and businesses need to take it seriously.

Many of our clients are small business owners and know firsthand how important it is to maintain a tight budget and get the most value from the products and services they invest in. 

The average accessibility lawsuit settlement is around $30,000!

This is just one of the many reasons why it’s so important to acknowledge the issue and make sure your website is accessible before more serious financial issues arise. 

Are You Ready To Make Your Website Accessible?

Website accessibility is so important. Not only is it important legally and ethically, but it also strengthens your brand and increases its visibility on top of improving your SEO and helping your website appear in more searches. 

Not sure if your current website is fully accessible?

We can audit your website with accessiBe's free tool. It’s simple and quick.

After that, we’ll know the status of your website and what to do next.

You can also scan it yourself by entering your domain here, or we can do it together and review the results.

Here at Spark & Pony Creative, we believe in the importance of inclusivity in the real and digital world and think every brand should be taking steps to make their products and services more accessible.

Enjoy learning helpful website, branding and social media tips? Follow us on Instagram for all the goodies. 

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Edmonton is located within Treaty 6 Territory and within the Métis homelands and Otipemsiwak Métis Government Districts 9 & 10. We acknowledge this land as the traditional territories of many First Nations such as the Nehiyaw (Cree), Denesuliné (Dene), Nakota Sioux (Stoney), Anishinaabe (Saulteaux) and Niitsitapi (Blackfoot).
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